Aachoo Voo, Private Eye
(is it five already? lemme see, 1,2,3, 4, yep, it's 5! holymolyravioli!)
(Big david's favorite expression)
I awoke to feel my head pounding and the back of my eyelids feeling like they'd been used for Picasso canvases. I didn't know where I was. I didn't know who I was or what I was. Oh, wait! Yes, I did. I was that ditsy private eye dame that was always getting in and out of scrapes that would have killed smarter people. Aachoo! Yeah, yeah, that was her name. I mean, my name. Aachoo Voo. For a minute there, I almost wished I had woken up with amnesia so I couldn't remember that name. Damn my Grandmother Voo and her little practical jokes!! Of course, it wasn't much better than the name my mother was gonna give me, but still....But that's a story for another time and place. I tried to open my eyes but they were all rusty and cranky and needed some machine oil to cooperate. Where the heck was I?
"O si yo, a ta. Do hi tsu? Ga do de tsa do a?" My eyes flew open at that. What the.....? "Oh, rats!" I thought, "I've had a stroke! I've died and gone to some underworld place where they don't speak English! That weird guy in black put a spell on me and I'm a prisoner in one of his grandfather's coal mines!" All manner of thought flooded my mind and I sat up and groped around until my sight became clear. I was in a hospital bed, covered with white sheets. It was dark outside the window. The moon was making funny faces at me. No, wait, that couldn't be right...."Hello, young lady. How are you? What is your name?" My vision focused and I beheld a huge tall man standing at the end of my bed holding a chart. He was smiling. He was wearing white. He had a ponytail.
"Where am I?" I said, pulling the sheets up to my chin and scooting back as far as I could. The big man stood patiently waiting for me to get my bearings and then he said, "You're in St. Chuck's Hospital. You had an accident with a drug store. You've got a knot on the top of your head as big as a turkey egg but no cuts or wounds and though I know it hurts, you're going to be alright." I looked up at him with painful eyes and tried to comprehend his words. Oh, that's right, that building ran out in front of me as I made my escape from Ole Creaky Fingers. I had had my head down and wasn't looking where I was going but trying to keep up with what was behind me. The cops had got him, right? I stiffened. "My bag! My purse! Where is it?" I looked around frantically. "Don't worry, " the man in white said. "It's right here. It took four of us to pry it out from under your arm even though you were unconscious. Boy, you had a grip on that thing!" He gave me a dazzling smile and continued, "I was just about to open it up and see if we could find someone to notify about your accident but thankfully, you came out of it and now here you are, all alive and kicking."
Then he stuck out his big brown hand. "I'm Dr. Burr, by the way. Dr. Bear Burr. And yes, I'm an Indian. Not a East Indian, mind you, but an Indigenous Indian. Born in Ohio, thank you very much, but left the corn fields for big city lights and fixing up broken white people." "So nice to meet you, Dr. Burr. Tell me, are you related to Raymond Bur.....?" "Nope." he interrupted. "Aaron Bur.......?" I asked. "Definitely not!" he grinned and I withdrew my hand. He had a gentle handshake for such a big man. "Just call me Bear," he said, checking my heartbeat. "Everybody does." "Alright." I said, hesitantly as he looked in my eyes and ears and under my tongue. "Whaaaizmmmypuullss?" I asked before he had taken the tongue depressor out of my mouth. I had to know everything was safe. Especially that five thousand dollars. "Be patient, Patient." he said, taking my pulse.
"No one has disturbed any of your powders and paints. Not that I haven't had a hankering to put me on some war colors and do a little rain jig around the room while you were out!" I could tell he was joshing, I think he was, but I needed that bag in my own two little hands. "Here it is." he said, handing me the black satchel. "What on earth do you have in there? A ton of coal?" "You might be surprised." I murmured and held the bag against my chest. "Well," he said as he walked towards the door, "I have some rounds to make so I'll eyeball you again later. I think you should stay overnight just to make sure your brains aren't scrambled and your bells and whistles are still in working order but otherwise, I'd say you can go home tomorrow and look for other buildings to demolish." And with that, he shut the door and let me be.
Before I had a chance to look in the bag, there came a commotion outside the door. It sounded like two guys arguing. "I tell you, that's Rita Hayworth in there!" said one. "No," said the other, "It's Ava Gardner!" Or...or maybe Rhonda Fleming or Hedy Lamar!" and just then, two heads peeked around the door, eyes all wide and faces all flushed. "Sorry to disappoint you fellas, "I said, fluffing up my hair, "But I'm not a movie star, I'm a ticket taker down at the Wanda Roma WonderRama." Their faces fell. "Ah, gee," said one, "I wanted your autograph! I've already told all my friends that we had us a celebrity in here tonight." "Well, I can give you an autograph." I smiled. "I'm sure I'm famous in some circles of the rich and notorious." (And I was, but not for the reasons they thought.) "Really???" they exclaimed excitedly and rushed into the room with their little autograph books out and wearing little orderly uniforms with St. Chucks on the pockets. One was named Alec and one was named Martin.
Aachoo Voo. I signed with a flourish and they looked at me with puzzled faces and then blushed and said, "Thank you, Miss Voo, oh, thank you very much!" And ran out of the room backwards, knocking over tables and wastepaper baskets and doing a fair imitation of me in a hurry. "Whew!" I sighed and slid down in the bed and wondered what the world was coming to when a fake femme fatale couldn't even find peace in a hospital!
"Hmm ." I said to myself, gingerly feeling the knot on my head. "St. Chuck's, huh?" The one hospital in the city that I hadn't been rushed to, till now. I kept a running tab at most of 'em. They didn't even ask me my name, just waved me back with a "Yeah, yeah, go on back, Miss Voo " kind of greeting. I'd never had an Indian doctor before. Usually a stiff upper lip bluenose that thought he was the cat's meow, but never a Cherokee. He was kinda cute, too. I slid further down in the bed and made myself comfortable, thinking about that ponytail. I wondered if Andy was in this hospital somewhere. It wasn't far from the movie theater we had gone to that afternoon. Had it really been only four or five days? I lost track of time so easily. I didn't think the relationship was over but the third date had not gone as planned. A shame, too, cause I was having a swell time and starting to feel at ease with the guy. He'd taken me to a Marx Brothers Marathon and we'd laughed and laughed and laughed. I loved to laugh at other people. Other people were always laughing at me and it kinda evened up the score.
So, we're sitting there laughing and Andy's worked up enough nerve to put his arm up on the seat behind me, hadn't put it around me yet but he was working on it, when this size 32 Hungarian woman decides she's got to get out of the aisle right then, right that second, and before I can stand up to let her out, she sidles through there with her butt right in my face and steps on my foot and I let out a scream you could've heard over in Tangier and Andy leaps up and lets her out but not before her big brown purse had ripped two or three gashes across his face. "Are you alright?" he asked anxiously, ignoring the blood streaming down his cheek and leaned down to tend to me. "Oh, my foot!" I moaned and took off my high heel to see if all my toes were still there. "Poor Ducky." he said and took the shoe from me and sat there holding it while I massaged my bruised but unbroken digits. After a few minutes, I was feeling a little better and I took some napkins that were not too badly butter stained and began wiping his face. "Here, let's get you cleaned up." I whispered because the whole audience was shushing us at this point and I was getting annoyed. "Oh, shush yourselves!" I told them more loudly than I meant to. "You want to go now, Andy?" I asked quietly. I think Andy was more than ready. His romantic mood had been spoiled by Hungary anyhow. I stood up and dropped my purse and Andy and I both dipped down at the same time to catch it and knocked our heads together in a resounding Crack! Then I slipped in some spilled popcorn oozing with butter and fell and well, do you really want to know what happened next? You do? Sigh.
Long story short, then. I tried to right myself, flailing wildly to hold on to anything I could, (which turned out to be the hat of the chrome dome in the next row.) Andy tried to help, bless his heart, but there was nothing much to do. It was dark, Harpo was playing his harp solo, people were hissing, yes, actually hissing and somehow, the whole row of seats came crashing down and fourteen people hit those sticky floors doing some pretty good screwball comedy routines. The whole time Andy had been holding on to my high heel shoe and I was trying to grab it and put it back on my buttery foot when the crash occurred and one thing led to another and the heel of that shoe ended up broken off in the top of his head and his leg was caught under the dismantled seats. The house lights came up and the ushers and managers came running and it was just chaos and utter mayhem, you know, the usual? I helped Andy limp out to the lobby and I was limping too, you know, because of the Hungarian lady and having only one shoe and I told Andy to sit down while I got him some water and called an ambulance.
He insisted that he didn't need an ambulance, that he was okay to drive but looking at that heel sticking out like that, I doubted it. (And those were my favorite pair of shoes, too!) So I escorted him outside and practically carried him to the car across the street. He was moaning pretty loudly and attracting attention. But when that movie audience tore out of the theater with murder in their eyes and running towards us like a tar-and-feather mob on a Saturday night, I shouted, "Give me your keys!" I propped Andy up on the side of his dented Studebaker. He fumbled in his pocket and fished out the keys, but they slipped from his buttered fingers and as I dove for them, I let go of him and he screamed and fell under an oncoming bus. So......... that's pretty much it.
"I bet he's here." I said out loud and made a mental note to ask the doctor to check on that for me when he came back. Oh, why, oh, why did men have to be so fragile? I covered my face with my hands and tried to put Andy out of my mind. The bag! I reached for the satchel and set it in my lap and opened it with mounting excitement. I removed my own purse, saw that everything was as it should be and breathed a deep sigh of relief. "There is a God!" I said thankfully and reached further into the bag. There was the manuscript wrapped in brown paper just as Mr. Arehte had described it. It smelled slightly of potatoes and gingerbread. Then I pulled out a...a...thing that could only be described as a...thing. "What is this?" I asked in amazement. It was like a gigantic eyeball. It was glass-like and extremely heavy but appeared very delicate. Like something you'd see at Madam Rose's Tea Leaves, Sheep Entrails and Reflexology Shop down on Metanoia Avenue.
I'd gone in there once looking for one of my best friends, Carol. She'd been despondent over the tragic accidental death of her uncle who had left her half a million dollars in his will. She wanted to contact him and ask him what happened to the other half a million and I'd told her to keep away from those kind of shysters but she wouldn't listen. (Let's just say, she went in to get her fortune and came out without her fortune.) I set the glass curiosity aside and reached in again. Hmm. Toothpaste, a razor, toenail clippers the size of hedge trimmers, barbed wire, an autographed 8x10 glossy of Boris Karloff, a blue bathrobe, a teddy bear, some pepsin gum, a piece of coal, blueprints for some kind of laboratory and a stuffed aardvark. In the very bottom, I found three marbles and a round trip ticket stub and boarding pass for the S.S. Blackbird. There was a To Do List scrawled in what appeared to be dried blood and I could barely make it out.
It read something like this:
a. lure villagers into mines b. turn them into mindless slaves with poor hygiene c. become rich beyond my wildest dreams d. retrieve the Tolkien book e. destroy the Arehte clan f. build my own tower g. overthrow Grandfather Saruman h. clone myself i. buy a pony j. propose to Joan Blondell k. learn how to turn dwarves into fairies
Oh, it was giving me a headache! What kind of asylum did this guy escape from? Did he really think he lived in the middle of the Earth for crying out loud? Isn't it hot down there? Wasn't that where Grandmother Voo was always threatening to send my mother!? Perhaps I'd better read that manuscript, I thought and put all the other disgusting paraphernalia back in the satchel. I untied the string on the parcel and very carefully began turning the yellowed pages of the old book. I have met a hobbit, the first page said, and his name is Bilbo Rodger Arehte. A what?!
I kept reading until my eyes were so heavy that I couldn't read anymore. Sometime in the the night I dreamed that Mr. Arehte came into the room and stood by my bedside. He had packed the manuscript back in it's brown paper wrapping, thrown the black satchel out the window, placed a velvet bag full of gold coins under my blanket and gave me a very soft and very sweet kiss on the cheek. I dreamed that I opened my eyes and looked into his and he smiled a funny little smile and said, "Thank you on behalf of my family and my village and coal miners everywhere. When this scandal breaks and justice is restored, you'll know that you played a very, very big part in it. May you find your one true love and may the elven moon always shine upon your path. Now I leave you, my good gumshoe, and in the morning you will be well." My sleepy eyes followed him to the door and he stood there quietly in the dim light, a comical character, but almost beautiful in his small majestic way.
"Amvanya heri nartyë," he whispered. "A very beautiful lady are you."
TO BE CONTINUED...................in episode 6
Andy from myspace
& Ray Milland as Andy
Bear Burr from myspace
Dr. Burr in conference
with one of his adoring nurses.
Vince Edwards as Dr. Bear Burr
Bear Burr, cowboy and Indian
With special thanks for the use of the names: Rose, Metanoia, Boris, Blackbird, Harpo, Wanda, Carol, Alec and Martin from the webs and oh yeah, my very good friend, Chuck and of course Rodger 'Arehte' Ashton